Monday, April 14, 2008

Taking advantage of foreigners in Spain

One thing that really irks me about Spain is the way so many people take advantage of the kindness and/or naivité of foreigners. In the past week I’ve come across several “scams” aimed at expats moving to Spain, and I’ve seen tourists get ripped off in restaurants and bars. I call these “scams” because in most cases, the service provider makes it clear what you must pay and what you receive in return – what they don’t tell you is that their services are often totally unnecessary and you’re thus paying money for something you could have done yourself for free. Throughout the week I’ll talk about some of the ways in which people take advantage of tourists and expats in Spain.

To start with: Lawyers or gestores who charge several hundred euros to help immigrants and expats take care of legal matters such as empadronamiento (registering with the local government), getting a NIE (foreigner’s identification card), obtaining a tarjeta sanitaria (health card), etc. I’ve heard of some legal advisors in Spain who charge 200 euros or more to take care of this for you. Why is it a scam? If you do it yourself, you won’t pay a cent. Oh, sorry, not true – you may spend a euro or two on photocopies.

While I wouldn’t have a problem with someone charging up to 50 euros to save you the hassle of standing in line to take care of all of these processes, I find 200 to 300 euros outrageous. Not to mention the fact that certain registration processes, such as empadronamiento, can be taken care of online in cities like Madrid.

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you should be able to take care of these matters yourself. It may take a bit of patience, but it can be done. Thousands of people have done it before you, and many of them did not speak Spanish either. The point is, if you show up at the local junta municipal and mumble something that resembles “empadronarse” they’re going to figure out what you want to do and give you the appropriate forms. Then you can take them home, figure out what you need to do, and come back the next day with everything filled out. This is what the employees at the junta do all day every day – they know what needs to be done, and by now they are probably accustomed to dealing with people with limited Spanish skills as well.

8 comments:

Farce Adentus said...

Hey there, I've been reading your blod for some time now, I find them very informative and give an honest account and a different perspective on the spain and Madrid that I'd percieved before I read your blog.
I'm considering moving to spain soon, and its helped alot!

Cheers amigo!

hey maybe when i come to spain I can teach you how to trade the financial markets and you can teach me spanish! www.masterforex.co.uk

eslhell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eslhell said...

Thanks! It's good to see that people are reading our blog and getting the "full perspective" on life in Madrid. Good luck with your move to Spain!

MadridTeacher.com said...

Hi again, while I agree that there are a lot of scams here of all kinds and levels, I don't agree about gestores being a waste of money in absolutely all cases. I think that that is over-generalizing. For example, if people don't speak English, you suggest they mumble "empadronarse" and then figure out the forms at home?!?!
By the way, some of these guys posting "mumbling" comments are just spamming your site with their links.

MadridTeacher.com said...

By the way, if you consulted a lawyer, he would tell you that your website needs two documents to be legal in Spain: Condiciones de Uso and Política de Seguridad y Protección de Datos from General de la Agencia española de Protección de Datos. It might cost you a little in legal fees, but it could end up costing you 1,000s of euros if you don't get them.

eslhell said...

Actually, my website is registered in the u.s....

MadridTeacher.com said...

By the way, I actually just heard of a "ventanilla unica" where they take care of everything for autonomos, AND they speak English supposedly. It's in the Camara de Comercio somewhere near Ribera de Loya or Hoya near IFEMA maybe. I'll check it out asap.

eslhell said...

Yeah, I contacted them about a year ago when I was thinking of starting a limited society in Madrid. They told me that a foreigner who meets all of the legal requirements to live and work in Spain (so an EU citizen or non-EUer with working papers) could take care of "ciertas gestiones" at the ventanilla única empresarial. Of course, that was in reference to starting an SL, not becoming autonomo... but I'm sure they could help or, at the very least, point someone in the right direction. They seemed helpful -- at least, they responded very quickly (rare for Spain)!